For couples with children, one of the biggest concerns in a pending divorce is what child custody will look like. While a child custody order will depend on a multitude of factors, the court’s primary focus in issuing its order will always be the best interests of the child.
Texas’s default custody order for children older than three years is termed the “Standard Possession Order” (“SPO”) which gives one parent (let’s call them “Parent B”) custody on Thursday evenings during the school year and the first and third weekends of the month year-round. If there is a fifth weekend in the month, then Parent B gets custody then as well. The other parent (let’s call them “Parent A”) has custody of the children at all other times—think weekdays and the second and fourth weekends of the month. Holidays and the summer, however, are an exception. The mother gets custody on Mother’s Day weekend, and the father gets custody on Father’s Day weekend. Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are split between the parents. In even-numbered years, one parent has custody of the children for the children’s Thanksgiving holiday break from school while the other parent has the majority of the Christmas holiday break; in odd-numbered years, the parents switch. The parents also alternate having the children for Spring Break.
Under the SPO, the parents each have the ability to have custody of the children for extended periods of time during the children’s summer vacation. This allows each parent to have quality time with the children while they are not in school. The default in Texas is that Parent B will get custody for thirty consecutive days in July. However, if Parent B gives Parent A written notice by April 1, then Parent B can pick when the thirty consecutive days occur (with some limitations). Parent A has the option to provide written notice to change the summer schedule such that Parent A will get custody over a weekend that falls on the first, third, or fifth weekend of a month which would otherwise be a weekend Parent B would have custody (with some limitations), and Parent A can also designate one weekend to have custody during Parent B’s thirty days of custody.
The above, however, refers just to the default SPO for spouses that live within 100 miles of each other post-divorce. The court may modify the SPO to adapt to a family’s specific needs and, in fact, parties are permitted to make customized custody arrangements so long as the court agrees that any such arrangements are in the best interests of the child.
If you have children and are considering a divorce or believe that your spouse may be considering a divorce, contact Kirker│Davis LLP to schedule a meeting with an attorney today.